Theresa May under fire over ‘grubby deal’ with DUP

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A deal between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party to shore up the minority government has sparked a furious row over plans to give £1 billion of additional public money to Northern Ireland.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have protested after it was confirmed that no extra cash will go to administrations in Edinburgh and Cardiff, with Nicola Sturgeon denouncing it as “the worst kind of pork-barrel politics” while Carwyn Jones said it was “a straight bung”.

Prime Minister Theresa May stands with First Secretary of State Damian Green, right, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster, second left, and DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds as DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, sitting left, shakes hands with Government Chief Whip Gavin Williamson inside 10 Downing Street. Picture: AP

Prime Minister Theresa May stands with First Secretary of State Damian Green, right, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster, second left, and DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds as DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, sitting left, shakes hands with Government Chief Whip Gavin Williamson inside 10 Downing Street. Picture: AP

The “supply and confidence” agreement to secure the vital support of the DUP’s ten MPs was signed at Downing Street by the two parties’ chief whips, with DUP leader Arlene Foster and Theresa May looking on.

The deal effectively amounts to £100m for each MP who has pledged to support the government. Speaking outside Downing Street afterwards, Ms Foster said the deal confirmed both parties’ “commitment to acting in the national interest in accordance with our shared objectives for strengthening and enhancing our precious Union”.

But Mr Jones said the deal “weakens the UK” and claimed it “all but kills the idea of fair funding for the nations and regions”.

The funding for Northern Ireland, which will be targeted at infrastructure, health and education, will address the “unique circumstances” in the province, Ms Foster said. Downing Street sources have previously said funding included in the deal would not result in a boost for any other part of the country.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds arriving at 10 Downing Street. Picture: PA

DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds arriving at 10 Downing Street. Picture: PA

Ms Sturgeon claimed the government was “ignoring” the Barnett formula and that Scotland would lose out on around £2.9bn.

She said: “In concluding this grubby, shameless deal, the Tories have shown that they will stop at nothing to hold on to power – even sacrificing the very basic principles of

devolution. This is the worst kind of pork-barrel politics, which has shredded the last vestiges of credibility of this weakened Prime Minister.”

While Scotland would only normally receive a windfall through Barnett for spending in England in areas that are devolved, Scottish Secretary David Mundell insisted as recently as Sunday: “Any funding that goes to Northern Ireland, then Barnett rules will ensure that appropriate funding comes to Scotland.”

He also said he would oppose “anything that could be construed as back door funding to Northern Ireland”.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “Only 24 hours ago David Mundell was categorically assuring us that Scotland would be in line for Barnett consequentials as a result of the DUP deal – so he has seemingly either been deliberately misleading people, or he is completely out of the loop even in Theresa May’s crumbling government.

“This was the first big test of the new Scottish Tory MPs, but despite all of their bluster, they clearly have no authority and no influence – and now they have no credibility.

“Ruth Davidson said they would stand up for Scotland – but instead they have bowed down to their Westminster bosses and sold Scotland out so they can cling to power.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said the deal had to result in additional funding for Scotland.

“If Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has any influence in Downing Street at all, she will be demanding extra cash to reverse the spending cuts her government has inflicted on Scotland – aided and abetted by the SNP, which has simply turned Holyrood into a conveyer belt for Tory cuts,” Ms Dugdale said.

• READ MORE: The Barnett Formula: What it is and why it is important